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9/11 Heroes Still Waiting for Their Due

9/11 Heroes Still Waiting for Their Due

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New York Daily News via YellowBrix

March 15, 2010

NEW YORK – After many years of costly litigation, the news broke this week that lawyers for thousands who were injured in the World Trade Center attacks have reached a settlement with the City of New York and others that could provide more than $650 million to those who sustained illnesses or injuries in rescue and recovery operations at Ground Zero.

This settlement, if approved by the federal district court, could bring some long-overdue financial relief to many ailing 9/11 responders and their families. However, questions remain about whether the settlement funds will be sufficient to fully compensate thousands of workers – some with life-threatening illnesses – and whether nearly all of the plaintiffs will agree to participate, as is required for the settlement to move forward.

We are certain of one thing, though: This settlement alone will not be enough to fully meet the needs – both financial and medical – of the men and women who rushed into harm’s way on Sept. 11, or were innocent victims of the attacks. Congress must finally pass our bill, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which would provide long-term health care and compensation for all those who are sick because of the terrorist attacks on our city and nation.

Indeed, regardless of whether or not the settlement moves forward as planned, the 11,000 plaintiffs will still need medical monitoring for their exposures to the toxic plume that lingered at Ground Zero for months after the attacks, and most will need medical treatment for many years, if not the rest of their lives.

Our bill would expand, make permanent and better coordinate the existing patchwork of federal programs to provide health care for 9/11 responders and survivors of the attacks, fund research into 9/11-related medical conditions, improve outreach to those ailing from 9/11 who live outside the Tri-State area and make many other improvements that may help save the lives of Americans who are sick because of 9/11.

In addition, the 11,000 plaintiffs in this case are only a fraction of the more than 20,000 Americans who have been identified by the federal government to date as having serious health problems as a direct result of the attacks. In all, more than 55,000 first responders and 4,500 survivors of the attacks are already receiving medical treatment and/or monitoring as result of their exposure to Ground Zero toxins. There could be many more.

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